South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) has today made a submission to oppose an application by Putco to be exempted from paying its workers the wage increase signed in May this year.
Labour unions and employers in the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBAC) signed a two-year wage agreement in May following a month long industry-wide strike. Parties agreed workers would receive a 9% wage hike in the first year and 8% the following year. But since then Putco, Algoa Bus, Golden Arrow and two others have applied to the bargaining council seeking to be exempted from complying with the wage deal.
The hearing for and against Putco’s application was heard today in Woodmead. The company has refused to pay the wage increase and bonuses to its workers despite having just finalised the large-scale retrenchment of 220 employees and abolished 380 positions across company operations. SATAWU interdicted the retrenchment process but the Labour Court found against us.
The company claims it cannot afford to pay increased wages even though it has escalated commuter fares in the first quarter of this year and plans to do so again on 1 July bringing the total fare increase this year alone, to between 8% and 14%. This far outstrips the inflation rate which currently stands at 4.4%.
Putco generates its revenue from commuter fares and government subsidy, which increased by 3.24% this year. Given the company transports around 200 000 passengers a day, it is clear there is money coming into the business. However, Putco is failing to manage its expenses so as to turn a profit. It is our belief that workers should not be made to pay for management’s failure to manage the business effectively.
Moreover, it is grossly unfair to expect workers to forego the wage increase in this tough economic climate where VAT has increased by 1%, worsening the impact of inflation, particularly on food, which Statistics SA says poor households spend most of their income on. By not paying the wage increase, Putco is effectively condemning its workers and their families to starvation.
For media queries contact:
Zanele Sabela, SATAWU Media Officer
011 403 2077/ firstname.lastname@example.org